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Accompanist Fees for Year

violindadviolindad Registered User Posts: 933 Member
edited September 2009 in Music Major
Recently in the sample lessons payment thread there has been a bit of discussion of the fees for collaborative pianists/accompanists. I thought it might be useful to start a thread on the issue. While I've seen plenty on various college/conservatory websites about accompanists' fees for auditions, I haven't seen much about accompanists' fees for when the student is attending the college/conservatory.

How frequently is the fee included within tuition? I think that Mezzo'sMama suggested that CIM includes accompanying within tuition (please correct me, if I'm wrong). When a school does not include it in tuition, what does it typically cost for a year or per hour? Obviously this will vary significantly from school to school and accompanist to accompanist, but it would be helpful to know what the range is.

When it is included within tuition, how much accompanying does it cover? Mezzo'sMama mentioned that at CIM, her daughter gets an hour rehearsal per week, plus accompaniment at lessons, plus auditions, juries, and performances (this seems adequate or generous). What would a violinist or other instrumentalist typically get? I'm assuming that accompanists for instrumentalists will not regularly go to lessons (although my son has had teachers that would like them there frequently).

We don't have any top-notch schools in our area, so at them each student individually arranges for accompaniment and pays for whatever they arrange at whatever rate they negotiate. For my son who is a sernior, we have been paying a wide range now from $40 per hour to $400 for a recent competition (the $400 included rehearsals, the pianists' individual practice time, and the hour-long performance).
Post edited by violindad on

Replies to: Accompanist Fees for Year

  • Sop14's MomSop14's Mom Registered User Posts: 792 Member
    This is a great question, and one that I have asked at most of the schools we have visited. While I'm not sure I could accurately quote the responses, my general impression is that most schools provide accompanists for auditions and juries, but (voice) students are often on their own for performances. The advice we got at NEC was to make friends with collaborative piano students. (Likewise, that was the general advice for recording fees--make friends with the tech kids.)
  • violadadvioladad Registered User Posts: 6,645 Senior Member
    Here's a prior thread with a couple of sidebar comments http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/music-major/402021-accompaniment-fee.html?highlight=Accompaniment. It's been kicked around before, but I can locate any titled threads; searching within posts using a couple of options didn't reveal much that was school specific, more focused on audition/competition/recording accompaniment questions.

    This is probably one of those institution specific questions that may well have a broad range of answers. I know from son's experience there Hartt (BM '07), there was a "pool" of accompanists, who were grad students and doctoral candidates. Arrangements were directly between the accompanist and the student. We were not billed by the school, nor was it stated as included as part of tuition cost, or a distinct line item fee. Whether the fee was negotiable, I don't recall, but was reasonable, and perhaps those in the highest demand could/would charge a bit more. Son always wrote a check direct to the accompanist, in the $150 range if I recall. The last two years he worked exclusively with one doctoral student, and they had a quid pro quo arrangement, where he provided string accompaniment when she needed it.

    I'd imagine a different level of usage between instrumentalists and vocalists. His need was limited to jury/recital prep, and an occasional "solo" piece he was preparing.
  • lorelei2702lorelei2702 Registered User Posts: 2,125 Senior Member
    from violindad: "the $400 included rehearsals, the pianists' individual practice time, and the hour-long performance"

    This is not reasonable, to pay for pianist's individual practice time. If they do not know the repertory, it is to their benefit to learn it, especially if it is standard. This is one disadvantage of going to a regional or smaller program, fewer competent pianists. It is another good question to ask of the current students before making a commitment to attend a school. Some deans think that this is the price singers pay for not having to buy and maintain an instrument. Others recognize that a good collaborative pianist program enriches everyone, and the piano students gain from their experiences playing with others.
  • Singersmom07Singersmom07 Registered User Posts: 4,073 Senior Member
    At Rice DD gets the same support that Mezzo'sMama D indicated. An hour rehearsal per week, 1/2 hr of her voice lesson time, juries, and recitals. They get assigned from the piano performance majors. It is something to check out.
  • fiddlestixfiddlestix Registered User Posts: 218 Junior Member
    I think this is a great consideration and a question that should be asked anytime that additional fees are a concern. As noted above, the specifics will be very school specific. There are many ways schools handle accompanists - from leaving the burden to the students to come up with appropriate collaborators and an agreed upon reimbursement to taking on the responsibility of assignment and billing as a service/fee function run largely through the school.

    Note also, that even if the school's policy is as liberal as CIM's, there may be specific instances in which the students pay $$$ in addition to any "accompanying fees" assessed by the school. For example, if a student does a non-degree recital (i.e. sophomore recital prior to the required junior & senior recitals, nursing home performance as practice for senior recital, etc.) the student may have to pay the collaborative pianist out-of-pocket. Other instances I'm aware of - schools may expect that accompanists can additionally charge students for travel expenses out of the area - even if only 20 miles down the road. Students using accompaniment in making a graduate pre-screen CD or a summer festival audition CD may be expected to pay the accompanist (or engage in one of Violadad's quid pro quo arrangements!) - even the accompanist is regularly attending a student's lesson/studio class/ jury and student is not charged for those services.

    Also, fully agree with Lorelei that no pianist should be compensated for individual practice time!
  • violindadviolindad Registered User Posts: 933 Member
    I agree with Lorelei2702 that paying for an accompanist's individual practice time would be unreasonable in many cases. In our case, however, the repertoire was standard stuff for the violin, but the sonata involved was one of the most demanding in the repertoire and no one within 400 miles had played the stuff (or is likely to play it again in the next couple of decades). We could have travelled the 400 miles for rehearsals with any of several excellent collaborators who know the rep like the back of their hands, but it was far less expensive and less time-consuming to pay the more local pianist (who was still over 180 miles away from our home). As well, we would have had to pay many hundreds of dollars to one of the experienced collaborators for their travel, hotel, and time for the actual competition. Also, my son had just gotten back from 7 weeks of summer programmes in Europe and wasn't interested in more plane travel.

    The collaborator actually asked for a lower fee, but I, as a pianist, knew that she had to invest considerable time into learning the rep and that she will probably never play that rep again in her life. I voluntarily paid almost double what she asked because I believe that far too many musicians are considerably underpaid for what they do. So as Lorelei2702 suggests, attending a smaller or regional program is disadvantageous, but being a high school student in a smaller remote setting is hugely disadvantageous! Given our location, I encourage lots of unaccompanied Bach, Paganini and Ysaye!
  • Mezzo'sMamaMezzo'sMama Forum Champion Music Major Posts: 3,557 Forum Champion
    I am checking with D to find out what her instrumetalist room mates get re. accompanists- will post as soon as I hear( they don't get one for lessons, I know that much). OK, just talked to D, who ran this by a cellist and the upshot is, "no", instrumentalists don't get a regular accompanist because it's not "necessary" for them in the same way it is for a singer.
    Singersmom07, you said that, at Rice, the accomps. are selected from the Piano Performance pool. which makes sense, but could anyone tell me if, for schools that have strong Collaborative Piano departments, are the accompanists taken from that group vs. Performance Majors? D has a friend at NEC, who, like Sop14's D, was on her own for finding someone to work with. This really is an excellent topic for a thread ( maybe one of the "Dads" could break it off on its own?). If parents are new to all of this, getting a big, unexpected bill won't be pleasant....
  • fiddlestixfiddlestix Registered User Posts: 218 Junior Member
    Violindad - may heaven liberally bless your great generosity - of $$$ and spirit!!!
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 72,303 Senior Member
    During DS's masters program, the accompanists were collaborative piano students and they were terrific. When you had an upcoming recital or jury that required a pianist, it was at no charge to the students. DS always did give the pianist a gift card of some sort (depending on the person...Starbucks or Borders, usually).

    In his undergrad school, the students did pay the pianists. Typically the cost was about $100-$150 for the recital and a specified number of rehearsals. DS didn't have more than two of these a year.
  • OperaDadOperaDad Registered User Posts: 2,476 Senior Member
    My D is at Lawrence, and my S is at Univ of WI, Madison. At both places, they are taking voice lessons and have to pay for accompanyists ($15 to $25 per half hour - only needed for 1/2 the lesson). That fee is not included in either tuition bills.

    The exception would be if you could find a Piano major that needs accompanyist time for their degree. The piano student cannot be paid and earn the credit.

    Ideally, you would use the same accomanyist for lessons as well as auditions, recitals, etc. Then the pianist would already know the rep, and only charge for the additional time.
  • opera-momopera-mom Registered User Posts: 382 Member
    At San Francisco Conservatory.....all of the vocal performance students (even freshman) have a weekly lesson with a vocal coach. This vocal coach then also attends 1/2 of the vocal lesson to accompany student....This is included in the tuition. I don't know about Juries...recitals and such.
  • musmom2musmom2 Registered User Posts: 500 Member
    At D's school this past year, the vocal students worked out their own arrangements with the piano students. For example, some paid a set amount per semester, some paid a set amount (ie: $10-15.00-ish) per piece of rep. D's costs were partially off-set because she is a good enough pianist that she accompanied one of her friends. This also meant she got to sit in on a lesson with a different teacher than her own. She is transferring this fall in order to stay with her voice teacher, who is taking a new job, so no clue as to how it will work at the new school.
  • musicamusicamusicamusica Registered User Posts: 6,468 Senior Member
    D was fortunate enough to do her undergrad at a school with a great collaborative piano program. There is a "piano pool" wherein a vocalist submits their name and if one of the talented grad students chooses you, you receive their services free of charge. D also made herself readily available to collaborative piano grad students for masterclasses and their grad recitals. Working and communicating properly with accompanists is an art in itself and has served D well, especially for auditions.
    If any college age vocalists or pianists are interested...a great summer program for collaborative work is Songfest (SongFest - Summer Program for Singers and Pianists) held at Pepperdine in June. Gives you the chance to work with folks like Martin Katz, Graham Johnson and Jake Heggie. (very competitive, especially the Stern Fellowship program.)

  • Mezzo'sMamaMezzo'sMama Forum Champion Music Major Posts: 3,557 Forum Champion
    musica, thanks for the insight- it never occurred to me that the system really does work both ways, ie. the singers "helping" the piano students out too. CIM has a great collaborative piano program, with a few of the grad students carrying a double load combining that with piano performance. I'll have D inquire as to the extent to which the VP majors can participate with the collab. piano majors.
  • musicamusicamusicamusica Registered User Posts: 6,468 Senior Member
    Mezzo---if your D is easy to work with, they will find her.
This discussion has been closed.